Twenty-Three

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When Lester arrived at the group that Tuesday his face still carried the dark bruising from The Counts beating. He could finally open his left eye now that the swelling had mostly gone down. He made sure to get there early in case someone figured out his routine and lie in wait. H took a seat where he could see the door and awaited any trouble that might arise. He was ready to run and run hard. As each member filtered in he grew more and more tense. Doubly so when a couple new people arrived. Eventually all the other chairs were filled with Jackie and Emma sitting nearby. The group convened and everyone introduced themselves to the new member sand they to the group. When the last new person went he had something to ask immediately.

"I don't know if this is against protocol here, but I gotta ask. What happened to your face man?" He asked pointing at Lester.

"Lester would you like to address the question?" Father Bishop asked.

"Yeah, it's fine. I would have brought it up later anyway." Lester began. "Everyone, well most everyone, here knows about the legal issues I've been having. Over the last few days the situation has taken a turn for the worst." He sighed heavily. "Has everyone here heard of this guy called The Count?"

Everyone nodded or otherwise indicated affirmative.

"Well it turns out clearing my name put me on The Counts shit list. He had two goons break into my apartment and kidnap me so he could smack me around a bit."

"Why don't you go to the police?" Someone asked.

"The goons who grabbed me were police." Lester answered. "Probably should have mentioned that in the first place."

"No shit?" Someone else said.

"From what I hear the guy is connected to everything under the sun." Someone else added.

"I believe it." Lester said."Now I can't even go back to my apartment because they know where I live."

"What are you going to do?" Jackie asked.

"I don't know." Lester admitted. "For now I'm holed up in a cheap motel with thin walls and unspeakable acts going on at all hours of the day."

"That's no way for a man to live." One of the other men said.

"What's to be done about it?" Lester asked.

"Don't you have any friends you could stay with until it all blows over?" Emma responded.

"Not local. I'd prefer not to skip town if it can be avoided." Lester scratched his head. "Who knows how long I'll have to hide out too."

Shit man, we're off to a hell of a start tonight." Someone observed.

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Jackie couldn't believe life had taken a terrible turn for Lester since he cleared his name. She felt some what responsible even though it really had nothing to do with her. She wanted to do something for her new found friend but was at a loss as to what. She had to tell herself not to get involved no matter how bad she felt about the situation. Helping him would complicate her quest for vengeance.

Jackie listened intently to all the group members as they took their turns. Everyone seemed to behaving a rough week. The group was just a complete downer tonight.She almost regretted coming at all. Almost. Eventually all eyes rested on her.

"How was you week Jackie?" Father Bishop asked.

"Not bad actually. I think I'm really getting close to accepting my new reality."

"That's good." Someone affirmed.

"It's been a rough journey I won't deny that."

"What have you been doing to cope?" Someone asked.

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